Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sour Grapes can be a good thing

Recently I have been partaking in being educated.  Which means, I have been taking a writing class.  I think that you can never stop learning and knowledge really is the key.  So with that I decided taking a class could only help.  Right?

Well I have to tell you I am a little confused.   We had a lively discussion where the instructor, whom I am sure is quite lovely when she is not doing her Nurse Ratched impersonation.  Okay, she isn't quite that bad...we do get bathroom breaks.

But I digress.  

During our last class she was harping and harping insistent that good writers write what they know.  Write only what they know based on life experience.  Huh?  I know quite a lot of things that I have not experienced.  For example I know the North Pole is cold, frosty, frigid, with temps that plunge dangerously low.  Have I ever been?  Nope and I truly have no desire to go.  Not even to meet Mr. Clause himself.  Okay, maybe I would change my mind if he had a really hot son/brother/friend with Christmas tatts on his body...again I digress.

My point here is I completely disagree.  I think many authors have written well with no first hand experience of their subject matter at all.  Research is a great tool that can help and also having a wicked imagination doesn't hurt either.  I just don't buy that I need to experience space travel in order to write about it.  Or own a car that is possessed to create great drama and horror.  

I would like to say I did get something useful from the class but that would not be truthful.  No, wait, I just thought of something I did get out it which made spending that $99.00 more palatable.  I know what kind of a writer I don't want to be.  I don't want to be the kind that closes her mind to the ideas of others.  I don't want to be the kind that can't be open to new things.  No, wait, sorry.  I already learned that through blogging and tweeting.  
One of my good friends Alyson Peterson wrote a great story called Sour Grapes.  Her writing is spot on and her character development blew me away.  When I first heard the story premise I clearly thought to myself that it would not interest me.  Thank goodness I was wrong.  Her story is about St. Peter who guards the pearly gates of heaven.  Well suffice it to say, the story telling was marvelous and the only thing I can say is I hope it gets published because her writing was so well done I could see it being made into a movie. 

Anyway, I just thought I would share that with you guys and ask the question:  What have you been told about writing that you find to be completely untrue?  I can't be the only one let down in a writing class.  Can I?


Alyson Peterson said...

Aw shucks Kelly! *blushes furiously* Thanks for the starling review. I also got the advice to only write what I know. All I had to say in reply was, I don't know much, but the worlds inside my head are incredibly detailed. On the flip side, my characters are always based on someone I know or are very intimate friends of mine. My hubby pops up often, much to his irritation, but this time St. Peter and Samuel's personalities are the spitting likeness of my son's.

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss kelly! wow i could hear you could want your money back for that class. for me i been learning soooo much from my writer friends on these blogs. so far i didnt get told anything not true about writing.
...hugs from lenny

Candyland said...

Oh man! Let's see, I was once told to give up on fiction and try non-fiction.

Jeffe Kennedy said...

I really believe that any "writing advice" presented as a "rule" is unproductive. Learn the craft, learn the reasons for the "rules" - then make it your own.

Linda G. said...

*rolls eyes* Write only what you know? How boring. I'd rather write what interests me. And that's usually something I don't already know.

A. S. Boudreau said...

That book of your friend's sounds really interesting and I really would like to read it.. hope it comes out soon!

Also I agree with you, if we only wrote about our own life experiences then no one would be writing. Who wants to only write about the things in their own life? You write about what you know, true, but what you know is not only what you live, but what you learn through research, and experience, even if vicariously through research and such. There is more ways than one to 'know' something. I've never been a rock star, but I sure LOVE writing about it!

I was always told you HAD to write a formal outline of everything first. I have NEVER written a full outline of a novel... not formally. I make myself notes. I write myself an overall idea of where I'm going with the story but by the time I start a story I usually pretty much know where I want to go, but I don't confine it strictly to an outline. Sometimes the plot may change mid writing, or you may think of something during the process that works better.. writing shouldn't be set in stone outline. It's a creative process. :)

Wildlypoetic said...

I think it should be write the story that's in your heart because in the end that's what comes through. I write what I have to and then in the end I'll say WOW because some deep underlying struggle shows through that I have.
I agree it's creative and can't be forced into a mold or formula without ruining the story.

Kelly Breakey said...

Alyson: It was my pleasure and I think at the end of the day if you have to you should self publish it. It is freaking awesome.

Lenny: You are right, but I guess I deserved it. Besides I did learn something there and isn't that the whole point.

Candy: If you decide to write non-fiction, write about New Medicine.

Jeffe: Well said.

A.S. I live by the outline. I have to have my notes on the background. Where my MC came from. Where they are going, and I am jealous of the panters. But you are right it is a creative process and I like to be creative.

Wildlypoetic: Write the story of your heart. That's what I always try to do.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and leaving a comment. It means the world to me.